This is my 25th post, in the 26 days since I started this blog. Never did I think, when I began, that I would be able to post a recipe almost every day-but somehow I did. I hope I'll be able to maintain this enthusiasm as time goes by.
I'm aiming at a more realistic target of 3 to 4 recipes per week in the long term. This is because I've just landed a job that I could easily call my dream job at this point in my life-that of a featured writer on a women-centric website, where I have to write on topics as varied as marriage, feminism, spirituality, metaphysics...all my pet subjects. I will be working from home, which gives me the much-needed flexibility and freedom that is crucial to me, while at the same time giving me a certain degree of financial independence that is also important to me, after having tasted that for almost 8 to 9 years prior to my choosing to be a stay-at-home mom. In another month's time, I will also be starting my postgraduate studies in psychology, by distance learning, which is again, something I'm looking forward to.
Somewhere deep inside, a niggling doubt I have is whether I've bitten off more than I can chew-especially since the whole purpose of my being at home is so I can nurture and pay attention to my child's development-so that would mean keeping late nights and doing all this when he's asleep! Well, where there's a will, there's a way is what my mom and dad always say, and with a supportive husband in tow, I guess I shouldn't be worrying too much! So let's celebrate this 25th post of mine with something that is my all-time favorite dish-a North Kerala (Malabar) speciality called "Neypathiri" or "Neypathal" which can roughly be translated to mean "fried rice cakes"?!
My grandmother (dad's mother) used to make this for me as my "tiffin lunch" to take to college. Normally, this is shaped as discs, but she used to make it in another shape (see photo below), which my kid brother took to calling the "Star-appam" and the name stuck....
In almost every recipe for this, you'll find that it requires rice to be soaked for a couple of hours and ground to a paste (too complicated for me). But in my family, I remember this being made with rice flour-in my grandmother's time, this used to be made at home, but nowadays we use readymade roasted rice flour. You could use the rice flour used to make "idiyappam", "pathiri" or even "puttu" (will be mentioned on the label). A good brand to use is Double Horse or Eastern.
To serve 4
- 2 to 3 cups rice powder
- Salt to taste
- 1 to 2 cups hot water
To be ground to a fine paste:
- 1 big onion, chopped coarsely or a handful of pearl onions
- 1 teaspoon cumin (jeera) seeds
- 1 tablespoon fennel (perinjeera) seeds
- 1 cup fresh grated coconut
- Tip in the rice flour into a mixing bowl.
- Combine well with the salt.
- Add the ground coconut paste and mix.
- Now add the hot water, gradually mixing with a spoon at first, and later with your hands (when it's cool) to get a soft and moist dough.
- Divide into lemon-sized balls.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a wok or kadai (about half to one cup of oil).
- Rub your palms together with a little oil.
- Take one ball in your hand and flatten into a disc that is about 4- to 5-mm thick (If you want the star shape, then flatten the disc and pinch all around the rim to get an inverted V-shape running all round it).
- When the oil is really hot, slowly slide the pathiri into the oil (depending on the size of your wok, you can fry 4-5 pathiris simultaneously).
- The pathiri will slowly rise to the top of the oil and float, at which point you should turn it over using a slotted spoon.
- When both sides become golden brown, remove and drain the excess oil by placing on paper towels.
Serve hot and crisp with stew-chicken, mutton, or veg-for breakfast, lunch, or dinner (or for all 3 meals a day-I promise you, you won't be fed up!).
See Swift Stew for recipe.
It is difficult to say exactly how much water you would need for mixing the rice flour, so just add in the water slowly and use only as much as needed until it gets combined into a dough that is moist and soft. If it is dry, the pathiris will crack up while frying.
Sometimes I add a little ghee (clarified butter) to the dough to keep it moist.
Don't forget to rub your palms with oil before shaping each one so they won't stick to your palms.
You could also place a plastic sheet with oil on your hand and shape the pathiri on the sheet, sliding it off the sheet into the kadai (I believe in the golden olden days, they used a banana leaf for this purpose).
This dough also keeps well in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.